Cannabidiol, better known as CBD, is a cannabinoid derived from Cannabis sativa, and it’s a very popular wellness supplement.
That’s not all: it has also been the subject of some pretty extensive scientific study on its potential benefits. However, despite some encouraging findings, the real value of CBD has yet to be officially recognized. It also remains tainted by misinformation due to its link to cannabis. For this reason, some may be led to believe that CBD provides the same psychotropic effects as THC-rich cannabis. However, anyone who has used cannabis for holistic or recreational purposes knows the truth. This article takes a deeper look at CBD, how it works, and whether or not it can get you high.
WHAT IS CBD?
CBD is one of over 500 compounds found naturally in cannabis and hemp, the latter being a variety of cannabis bred for many industrial applications. In cannabis, CBD is generally the second most common ingredient, while it is the most common in hemp. CBD interacts with the human body and plays an important role in many physiological processes that affect our daily lives.
Cannabidiol products come in different forms, with CBD oil being the most popular. It is typically applied sublingually (under the tongue) in specific doses throughout the day. Other variations include CBD capsules, CBD topical applications – such as balms or lotions, and edibles – and CBD jelly beans.
HOW DOES CBD WORK?
Before answering this question, we must first familiarize ourselves with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is a complex regulatory system that exists throughout the body. It is responsible for mediating many vital functions, including metabolism, immune response, appetite and memory, to name a few.
The endocannabinoid system consists of two primary receptor types: CB1 and CB2. CB1 receptors are densely populated in the central nervous system, and therefore primarily influence the brain’s response to reward. CB2 receptors, on the other hand, are found primarily in immune cells and are responsible for modulating immune function.
Studies have revealed an opposite reaction regarding the relationship of THC and CBD with the CB1 receptor. The first functions as an agitator (stimulator), while the other serves as a credible antagonizer (inhibitor). Specifically, CBD is thought to function as a negative allosteric modulator of CB1, meaning that it can prevent other compounds, such as THC, from binding to these sites. For this reason, CBD is often recommended for people who have taken too much THC and are experiencing unpleasant effects. Through its action on CB1, cannabidiol can counteract the undesirable psychotropic effects caused by THC.
CAN CBD OIL MAKE YOU HIGH?
With all of the above in mind, it’s time to address the main topic you came here for. And the answer to that question is, “No, it doesn’t”. Not only has CBD been found to have a good overall safety profile, but its relationship with the SEC and its receptors is entirely different from that of THC. You see, when THC is consumed, it alters the normal communication between neurons and stimulates CB1 receptors to a much greater degree than our internally produced endocannabinoids. CBD, on the other hand, does not cause this disruption of neuronal communication and therefore has no psychotropic effect.
In addition to inhibiting CB1 receptor activity, cannabidiol also modulates 5-HT serotonin receptors. The release of serotonin plays a role in calming the body and mind, which may also negate some of the psychotropic effects of THC.
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- Pertwee RG. The diverse CB1 and CB2 receptor pharmacology of three plant cannabinoids: delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol, cannabidiol and delta9-tetrahydrocannabivarin. Br J Pharmacol. 2008;153(2):199-215.
- Niesink RJ, van Laar MW. Does Cannabidiol Protect Against Adverse Psychological Effects of THC?. Front Psychiatry. 2013;4:130. Published 2013 Oct 16.